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Our critics' picks in new releases


Produced by Trevor Horn, the Glaswegian group's new effort, their first for the revived classic-punk British label Rough Trade, is less quirky and analog-retro than previous affairs. But if the production sounds more space age, the songs remain the same: Beatlesesque pop-rock hooks that cling in your head and startling arrangements that this time include echoes of everything from some rare Steely Dan b-side to a bunch of Philly Soul sessions to Belle and Sebastian's patented Zombies-like baroque orchestral-rock symphonies. Plus, lyrics that summon into being a whole wry, bohemian world of sardonic hipsters and cool geeks. "I want to give you the job," a female boss tells the singer of "Step Into My Office, Baby," in a playful tale of workplace sexual harassment. "A chance of overtime/ Say, my place at nine?" Or the instant-cult-classic sea chantey ballad of a Scottish traveler in America called, of all things, "Piazza, New York Catcher": "San Francisco's calling us, the Giants and Mets will play/ Piazza, New York catcher, are you straight or are you gay?" Or the wizened music fan's dream of his ex-girlfriend in "I'm A Cuckoo": "You were wearing funny shoes/ You were going to a dance/ You were dressed like a punk but you are too young to remember." This followed by the singer's coy reflection on the end of their relationship: "Breaking off is misery/ I see a wilderness for you and me / Punctuated by philosophy."

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